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J Neurocytol. 2005 Sep;34(3-5):217-40. Epub 2006 Jul 13.

Olfactory epithelia differentially express neuronal markers.

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  • 1Department of Neurophysiology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Universit√§tsstr. 150, 44801, Bochum, Germany.


All three olfactory epithelia, the olfactory epithelium proper (OE), the septal organ of Masera (SO), and the vomeronasal organ of Jacobson (VNO) originate from the olfactory placode. Here, their diverse neurochemical phenotypes were analyzed using the immunohistochemical expression pattern of different neuronal markers. The olfactory bulb (OB) served as neuronal control. Neuronal Nuclei Marker (NeuN) is neither expressed in sensory neurons in any of the three olfactory epithelia, nor in relay neurons (mitral/tufted cells) of the OB. However, OB interneurons (periglomerular/granule cells) labeled, as did supranuclear structures of VNO supporting cells and VNO glands. Protein Gene Product 9.5 (PGP9.5 = C-terminal ubiquitin hydrolase L1 = UCHL1) expression is exactly the opposite: all olfactory sensory neurons express PGP9.5 as do OB mitral/tufted cells but not interneurons. Neuron Specific Enolase (NSE) expression is highest in the most apically located OE and SO sensory neurons and patchy in VNO. In contrast, the cytoplasm of the most basally located neurons of OE and SO immunoreacted for Growth Associated Protein 43 (GAP-43/B50). In VNO neurons GAP-43 labeling is also nuclear. In the cytoplasm, Olfactory Marker Protein (OMP) is most intensely expressed in SO, followed by OE and least in VNO neurons; further, OMP is also expressed in the nucleus of basally located VNO neurons. OB mitral/tufted cells express OMP at low levels. Neurons closer to respiratory epithelium often expressed a higher level of neuronal markers, suggesting a role of those markers for neuronal protection against take-over. Within the VNO the neurons show clear apical-basal expression diversity, as they do for factors of the signal transduction cascade. Overall, expression patterns of the investigated neuronal markers suggest that OE and SO are more similar to each other than to VNO.

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